KACHIN LAND NEWS
The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation announced on July 25 that Lahpai Seng Raw, founder and former Executive Director of the Metta Development Foundation, is one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Magsaysay Award. Lahpai Seng Raw is the first Kachin ever to receive an international award of this stature.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation was established to honor the memory of President Magsaysay of the Philippines, killed in an air crash in 1957. The Foundation’s website states that the award is given to “persons – regardless of race, nationality, creed or gender – who address issues of human development in Asia with courage and creativity, and in doing so have made contributions which have transformed their societies for the better.” The award is considered the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Part of the citation for Seng Raw’s award states, “the board of trustees recognizes her quietly determined and heroic efforts as an exemplary civil society leader in difficult circumstances, and her inspiring vision and example in building empowered local communities, and in promoting a non-violent culture of participation and dialogue as foundation for Myanmar’s future.”
Seng Raw has been active in community development work for more than two decades. She established the Metta Development Foundation in 1998 to assist communities in ethnic regions recover from the devastating consequences of armed conflict and humanitarian emergencies. Today Metta is recognized as the leading community based development agency in Myanmar.
Although she has stepped down from her position at Metta, Seng Raw remains committed to helping address the underlying issues of conflict and regression, ensuring that voices of the ethnic peoples are heard in the ongoing peaceful transformation process, and promoting emerging civil societies. She is also engaged in efforts to involve all stakeholders in drug endemic areas to address drug abuse and addiction in their communities.
Seng Raw intends to use her prize money towards projects that will help protect and preserve the Myitsone area, while providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for its communities.